Clouds and Dust – a collective inquiry in the concept of the generic

Tzuchien Tho, Jeremy Lecomte, Olivier Surel and Vincent Normand

This presentation will introduce a collective work in progress on the notion of the generic. Developed and mobilized in various domains and disciplines, this concept however also remains largely undefined. As it is more generally used to explain something than it is properly articulated as a distinctive concept, this notion often appears tautological. By tracking its use in architecture, urban theory, and art theory as well as in philosophy and in mathematics, this collective work on the generic aims to move beyond this tautological aspect, while remaining faithful to what, in its vagueness, makes it a highly plastic and dynamic notion. Notably emphasizing the relation that the generic entertains to the universal, this presentation will try to show how this concept can enable us to understand universality and diversity in more synthetic terms than they have been in contemporary discourse.